A foot or ankle fracture may seem pretty straightforward at first. You + an impact with something big, heavy, or fast = Ouch.
And in many cases, that is indeed true. All manners of hard hits can lead to a broken bone in your foot or ankle, whether they are on the field or on the road. However, leading a gentler life is in no way going to make you immune from the risk of fractures!
Not all fractures are the same. Some are much more severe than others, and some even happen more over time than via one sudden slam. Certain types of fractures are even very much preventable!
What do we mean? Let’s look closer at the types of fractures that can befall your bones.
Not All Fractures Crack Completely
Our feet and ankles contain more than a quarter of the total bones in our body, so there is plenty of opportunity for something to break. What kinds of fractures there may be, however, can vary.
Fractures can be generally categorized into different types:
- A stable fracture is the kind most people will think of first. It is a full, clean break in a bone where each piece will line up well with little manipulation.
- A compound (or open) fracture is the kind many people will think of when imagining a much more gruesome injury. In this case, the skin is broken; often by a piece of the bone piercing the skin, but not always. This type of fracture leaves no delay in getting medical attention!
- An avulsion fracture occurs around where a tendon or ligament attaches to the bone. The tendon or ligament will pull at the bone too forcefully, causing a piece of the bone to be ripped apart from its base.
- A stress fracture is a crack that can happen along the surface of a bone. This one tends to develop over time due to overuse and repetitive impacts against the bone. The bone is not given enough time to rest and recover from the forces repetitively applied to it, causing it to grow weaker and crack over time.
- Comminuted and segmental fractures mean the bone is in three or more pieces, with fragments (in comminuted) or a “floating piece” (in segmental) of bone present. These will likely require surgery.
There are further types of fractures, but these tend to be for more unique cases. We wanted to show more about how a broken bone may not be as simple as expected. Breaks can happen from impacts, sudden twists, drops, falls, accidents, pushing yourself too hard in workouts… a whole bevy of cases!
What Should I Do If I Think I Have a Fracture?
Not all fractures are going to be a situation where you can’t bear to place weight on the affected foot or ankle. Stress fractures, for example, will be painful, but not overwhelmingly so.
By no means does that mean you should keep doing what you’re doing if you suspect any type of fracture, though!
Be aware of these additional general symptoms of a fracture and stop whatever activities you’re doing if you suspect a break:
- A sudden, throbbing pain when you believe the break might have happened.
- Pain that builds when you’re active and decreases when you’re not.
- Swelling or bruising in the area.
- An obvious bump, bulge, or other deformity in the shape of your foot that wasn’t there before.
Even if what you are experiencing is not a fracture, it is likely still some type of injury. Taking weight off the affected area as much and as quickly as possible is always the best route to take.
Your next step should be to contact us right away. Let us know what happened, and we can help you with further instructions or get you in for an appointment. The sooner, the better. If you are bleeding and in need of immediate help, however, call emergency medical services instead!
Very likely, you will need to continue resting the affected area until your appointment, and probably afterward. Applying ice or a cold compress to the area (wrapped in a towel to protect your skin) for 20 minutes at a time will help with swelling and pain within the first 48 hours.
We will perform a full examination, very likely involving imaging tests such as X-rays to confirm a fracture and the extent of the damage. What we find will, of course, influence the course of treatment.
For most simple fractures, we will ensure that the broken bone is properly set and immobilized, giving the body a chance to mend itself on its own. A boot or cast may be needed for fractures of the ankle or most of the foot. For the toes, splints or taping will more likely be needed.
For more severe cases, such as bones that are in more than two pieces or have shifted greatly from their original position, more manipulation or even surgical setting and affixing may be needed. If this is the case, we will be sure to fully explain the circumstances and what you may experience before, during, and after the procedure.
Enid’s Source of Help for Fractures and More
If you feel you have suffered a fracture (and you usually will feel it), do not delay on getting the medical help you need. If it is not an emergency, contact our Enid office at (580) 237-3338 or our Oklahoma City office at (405) 947-8041. We will get you in as soon as possible and set you on the right path to recovery.
Even if you are not sure you have a fracture, give us a call anyway! We are in the business of helping people with foot and ankle problems feel better; not to judge you on your diagnosis skills.And, as always, if you have questions or prefer to contact us electronically, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us via our online form